Outside Chance presents anti reoffending, behaviour challenging workshops - 'A Career In Crime?' - in HM YOI Feltham with 15-18 year old juvenile remandees and convicted offenders on the prison's Juvenile Education Wing. At one time, our YOI-based project was operating in 7 young offender units. However, general cutbacks in Prison Service budgets - 3% year on year since 2003 - saw our 'Career In Crime?' project reduce from 7 locations to one today - HM YOI Feltham.
In the 19 years in which we have delivered this module, renamed 'It's YOUR Choice!', 10,400+ male juvenile and young adult offenders have passed through our workshops. In independent studies by Research Development Statistics, a division of The Ministry of Justice with access to all court and prison movements across the United Kingdom, the outputs of Outside Chance show an encouraging reduction in recidivism over two years+ following release in the young men who pass through our sessions of 62% compared to the national average of 76% in 18-21 year olds and of 74% compared to 88% in 15-17 year old juvenile offenders, a 14% reduction in each age group. Due to the recent changes in Prison Service policy, our workshops are now offered to 15-18 year old offenders only in HM YOI Feltham.
Our high impact full afternoon Powerpoint workshops take the inmate through how he was usually introduced into crime, a path which takes a very familiar route, how easily he will be caught again should he choose to reoffend on release, the effect of his offending on his family, partner, friends and, in the future, his children.
We also explain, using case studies, how little money he has actually made from crime compared to the time he may have already spent in detention. The difficulties he might face in the job market, housing problems and relationships. We close with practical demonstrations of anti-crime technology.
The 'wagging finger' approach simply does not work with young offenders. We tend to focus on the complete futility of continuing in a field where the inmate has already proved, not only to society but also to himself that, by his detention, he is clearly out of his depth. Continued offending will, invariably, be met with longer and longer prison sentences, often for relatively petty crimes. By homing in on the inmate's own thought processes, he will often bring himself to the conclusion that he has no future in crime, a view he will often report in his post-workshop Evaluation Form and which is also borne out by the statistic that the 'peak age' for offending in the UK is currently 19 years. Our aim is to short circuit that process by diverting them away from repeat offending at a younger age and at the earliest possible stage.
We then work on building up his self confidence and self esteem, both of which have, invariably, been damaged by their period in detention. Self worth and self belief that he can change, the possibility of self employment, of better relationships with his family, particularly his mum who is, in many cases, his only remaining contact with the outside world, his so called 'street fam' having long since abandoned him.